Black Friday vs. White Friday


In America, the day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday” – the first day of the Christmas shopping season, and a chance for retailers to move into “the black” financially.

Folks wait in long lines at ungodly hours for the chance to get great deals on special merchandise. Although there are some instances of consumer insanity, in general it’s a pretty festive occasion. Families build traditions around the day, planning their shopping route with the precision of a military maneuver.

True confession: Been there, done that … and loved it!

White pointsettia

On the other hand, it has also been suggested that we call it “White Friday.”

“Rather than a day of consumer frenzy, White Friday will be a day of clarity, peace, and reflection…We’ll buy nothing, and continue our Thanksgiving gratitude for the abundance already in our lives.”
–Francine Jay (aka Miss Minimalist)

It’s also called “Buy Nothing Day.” There are predictions that Americans will fork over $2,000.000,000 this year, and some have suggested that this money could provide access to clean water, education, food, and medicine for kids around the world.

I’ve been there and done that too … and loved it!

So I must admit that I fall somewhere in between the two camps. As usual, the answer is never black or white.

What I do take away from the “Black Friday” vs. “White Friday” debate are these 3 things:

1. It’s a great day to spend special time with loved ones, whether you’re shopping, baking, bowling, or picnicking.

2. Let’s redefine the concept of “Enough.” The thought that we as Americans will spend billions is very sobering. How about we spread the love around to help others, too.

3. Carve out some time for yourself. Consider your priorities. And as Leo Babauta of Zen Habits says … take a few minutes to slow down and  “just breathe.”

However you decide to spend Black/White Friday … have fun.



We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

42 thoughts

    1. Thanks for your kind words Sue. It’s that time of year when it’s easy to get caught up in all the madness – spreading the love helps to bring things back in focus. How’s the training going? Only a little over a week away! ~Terri

      1. Terri you are so sweet to remember the date! Monday’s post will be focused on how grateful I am for this ever expanding circle of support in this cray endeavour. All is well, just short runs now and rest. It’s a lovely thing.

    1. We’re on the same page when it comes to shopping, Andrew. I’ve always enjoyed browsing foreign markets just to see what other cultures have on offer, but “acquiring stuff” is not my cup of tea anymore. 🙂 ~Terri

      1. ““Do you like that?” I’ll say in surprise since it doesn’t seem like her type of thing, and she’ll look at me as if I’m mad. That!?” She’ll say, “No, it’s hideous” “Then why on earth,” I always want to say, “did you walk all the way over there to touch it?” but of course…I have learned to say nothing when shopping because no matter what you say… it doesn’t pay, so I say nothing.” Bill Bryson – ‘Notes From a Small Island’

  1. è interessante conoscere usi ed abitudini culturalmente a noi diversi, ti ringrazio per questo ed anche per le belle foto

    It is interesting to know customs and culturally different to us habits, thank you for this and also for the beautiful photos

  2. Not being much of a shopper to start with (although I confess to weakness when it comes to book stores), the thought of joining thousands as they crowd shopping centers, highways, and parking lots, gets me about as excited as a trip to the dentist. I wish those who want to, the best however. May they find the bargains they are looking for and the merchants find the profits they seek… and how in the heck do those two work together. 🙂 –Curt

    1. Curt, I too have a weakness for book stores. My Dad was a printer, so the smell of ink has always been comforting. He said I could smell a book store a mile away. Fortunately, since James and I seem to move regularly, we keep our book collection trimmed down. Thanks goodness for eBooks! And as for shopping malls and their parking lots – Yikes! Count me out, too. 🙂 ~Terri

      1. For a long time Terri, I moved on a regular basis. When I got ready to take off on my bicycle, I got what I owned down to what would fit on my bike. It doesn’t get much more minimalist. Except for my books… I stored boxes of them in the basement of the organization I had worked for. –Curt

    1. When I first became interested in Simplicity, the concept of “enough” really resonated with me. I started asking myself why I needed 2 sets of china, so many CDs, etc. And I realized I’d reached my saturation point. What I needed to figure out was how much “stuff” was “just enough.” It’s been a fun journey to find the answer. ~Terri

  3. I love your points! Although I lean more towards being against Black Friday shopping at this point in my life, I have to admit that I have gone Black Friday shopping many times in the past (although never arrived at the stores before they opened, I like sleep more than shopping). I think now that I have a little one, I would much rather spend time with family than rush around and spend money. Plus, if I really need something I would probably just buy it online and not deal with crazy mobs.

    1. Jennifer, I love your comment about liking to sleep more than shop. 🙂 This year many stores opened Thanksgiving evening and people shopped all night! I agree with you – “I would much rather spend time with family than rush around and spend money.” Well said! ~Terri

  4. Living in Croatia, which is 90% Catholic, is such a different holiday experience. Here, ‘holiday’ is still two words for most people. Gift-giving is mostly about getting the children a new toy as well as the new clothes they need to replace the garments they have outgrown. Holidays are mostly about family – to gather, to eat and drink together, and to observe traditions that span many generations. When we take the time to slow down, we take notice of the many things we have to be thankful for. I am happy to shop for others when I do not feel the frenzy. I guess that is the best part of being retired.
    Blessings of love and peace to you and your loved ones this holiday season. – Mike

    1. Thank you so much Mike for the insight into the holiday season there in Croatia. The gift-giving tradition you described fits how it was at my home growing up. As kids, we were also encouraged to make things for friends and family. And cooking and coming together for special meals was a joy (except for all the dishes we had to do 🙂 ). james and I carry on many of the same traditions, no matter where we are. We call it a “Nomad’s Christmas.” What about you – how will you and Florence celebrate the holidays there in Croatia? Wishing you all the best for the holidays, Terri

      1. Our anniversary is Dec. 23. We reserved a restaurant on the waterfront on that Saturday and invited everyone we could think of to come join our holiday party as our guests. That will be our Christmas. People here have done a lot for us including taking Florence to the clinic when she was sick and helping us get medicine and cook meals. We found the perfect opportunity to give something back. After New Years, Jan. 3rd, we are headed for Spain with a stop in Rome on the way.

  5. I have done the Black Friday thing a few times in my life, but not for many years. I tend to lean far more towards White Friday. Hope you both had a wonderful Thanksgiving. 🙂

    1. So many thanks LuAnn. I hope that you and Terry got to celebrate given your grueling work schedule. What is it – 23 more days? I know you must be counting them. 🙂 Hang in there. ~Terri

      1. We worked on Black Friday and it was crazy! As I sit here typing Terry and I were just discussing that we have 15 more working days, and we are definitely counting them down. 🙂

  6. Love this, Terri! I like how you are not judgmental about how people spend their Friday after Thanksgiving. I’m so tired of reading all the negative reports about how Americans are selfish, robotic nightmares on this day. Don’t get me wrong, I actually avoid Black Friday, but I have many friends who turn it into a fun event and get some serious deals. (I’m guessing they avoid the “hours of carnage” as well).

    I also really love the idea of White Friday! Cheers — Steph 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Steph. I figure everyone’s got to find their own path … and it can be a winding journey. It took me 15 years of playing the consumer to realize I wanted to simplify my life. Now I relish experiences (like your corn maze) over stuff. Can’t wait to see what adventures your family has over the holidays! ~Terri

    1. You are so right Monica! When I’m rushing around sometimes it’s so hard to remember to be in the moment. But then if I stop … and breathe … the tension melts away. 🙂 So glad you stopped by. ~Terri

  7. This is a really fine piece. I, too, find myself in both Black Friday and White Friday camps with the latter becoming, I hope, prominent in my life. Consumer culture is deadly to the human spirit, the curse of “the hollow men” searching for what we cannot find in a mall or on Amazon. Though I haven’t published the thought, the phrase Black Friday immediately takes me to Good Friday and Black Saturday when a divine interruption disturbed the unconscious patterns of thought and behavior: the dramatic interruption that could be called Buy Nothing Day. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    1. Thank you very much Gordon. Like you, I lean much more toward the White Friday sentiments. After living and working in Sudan, I saw what a difference a few dollars can make to improve the lives of the folks who live there. So many of the basics that we take for granted, like clean water, just isn’t available to many people around the world. I’m glad that you stopped by and thanks for your thought-provoking comment. All the best, Terri

      1. Terri,
        Thanks for taking time to reply. When one looks at the disparities across the world, as well as here at home in the U.S.A., a bottle of Brandy comes in handy -:)

      2. So true Gordon. In Sudan we had to make (illegally) our own wine. Being amateurs, we never had any control over the strength. It tasted pretty awful, but it did the trick! ;~)

  8. Like the idea of White Friday. True nothing is black and white. I like the idea of spending time with friends and/or making creative gifts!

    1. Lauren, I think we are of like minds because I like the White Friday concept too. And I love your idea of making creative gifts. How do you celebrate the holidays there in Basque Country? ~Terri

      1. Hi Terri,
        I’m back in the States but last year in Basque Country, the cities were festive with lights and Basque version of Santa known as Olentzero- Have a read -

  9. I love the concept of White Friday! Thank you for introducing me, Terri- I’d never heard of it before. While I tried Black Friday once to have the experience (waking up at 3:30am to save $5 on an electric mixer? Once was enough!), I really love the idea of donating that $$ to a worthier cause. I’m excited to try out “White Friday” next year!

    1. The “White Friday” concept is a very cool movement, Miranda. It gives people a chance to think beyond acquiring “stuff,” and consider other ways to put that money to good use. I find that very appealing. When next year rolls around we can do “White Friday” together. 🙂 ~Terri

  10. I really don’t like to shop so going to a store on the busiest day of the year sounds especially horrible, so I never do it. Okay, once I did go shopping on Black Friday when my sister came to town on her limited time off and wanted to shop in the stores in my city. I didn’t actually shop, but drove my sister around. She concluded that the stores were no better than in her own town, which is lucky, because I won’t go shopping again on Black Friday, even if she does visit again over Thanksgiving. I call it Avoidance Friday.

    Now it seems that shopping has spilled over into Thanksgiving, which seems like a bad idea to me.

    1. Thanks so much for writing so beautifully about another way to look at the day after Thanksgiving. An affirmation of gratitude rather than just a rejection of consumerism.

      (Despite not liking shopping in general, I confess that I used to be very fond of Day After Christmas sales. :))

    2. Catherine, I’m with you because I’ve never been fond of shopping (unless it was in the souks of Morocco 🙂 ). And now that Black Friday has spread over to include Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, I’m really put off. But I do love to go shopping with my sisters – I rarely buy anything, but I get such a kick out of being with them. Sisters Rock! 🙂

      Thanks also for the kind words. So glad that we live in a world with choices. And as for shopping the day after Christmas – too fun!

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